Book Review: “The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown” by Jay Manuel

Warning: This book review contains some spoilers for “The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown” by Jay Manuel. 

Cover of "The Wig, The Bitch, & The Meltdown" by Jay Manuel.
Cover of “The Wig, The Bitch, & The Meltdown” by Jay Manuel.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown” by Jay Manuel! It’s been a while since I read a fashion-related novel, and I thought this one would be fun to read. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“The Wig, The Bitch & The Meltdown is a satirical look behind the scenes of Model Muse, a fictional reality model competition show and global phenomenon. Seen through the eyes of our moral compass Pablo Michaels-the heart of production in the helter-skelter world of Model Muse-we see behind the scenes and backstage shenanigans of the fashion/reality TV world. As “The Fixer,” Pablo is the man everyone turns to in crisis. Struggling to hold the fledgling production together, he juggles his duties to his “BFF,” the ruthless and vulnerable antihero Keisha Kash, his Supermodel boss while trying to hold on to his own soul.”

Content Warning & Disclaimer:

There is a somewhat-explicit scene of sexual assault in Chapter 9 of the book, as well as dubious sexual situations mentioned in Chapter 12. If any of this is something that might unsettle you, please skip reading this novel.

For those that are familiar with the show America’s Next Top Model (ANTM for short), that the setting and the whole concept of the Model Muse show being filmed in the events of the book is heavily based off America’s Next Top Model. Some moments that are captured in the book heavily mirror one or two moments that happened in the actual show. I do think this is because the author himself actually worked on said show. With that being said, I know nothing of how things actually were in the reality of ANTM being filmed, and I’m judging this book from a purely reader standpoint.

Plot Development: 3 out of 5 stars

The plot is very-fast-paced in this book. It doesn’t take long for the protagonist Pablo to become ‘besties’ with Keisha and end up handling so much of the Model Muse show in the process, as well as the chaos that follows. This book is one of the fastest-paced books I’ve ever read in a while. The story starts off fast, and it just gets even faster, up until the last chapter. I mostly enjoyed the pure chaotic energy that this book embodied overall. The fast-pacing of the plot made me feel the constant rush that Pablo and the other characters were subjected to when shooting Model Muse.

However, the plot is so fast that it’s too fast. This causes the overall story to develop too quickly without giving the reader much time to soak it all in and absorb what they’ve uncovered so far. Also, the story never quite has a solid ending other than Pablo moving on past Model Muse and dealing with Keisha. I thought there would be more of a conclusion to all of the little plotlines going on in the book as well (the fallout of sexual harassment/assault scandals that were mentioned and/or happened, for example).

Character Development: 3 out of 5 stars

Pablo’s eventual realization that he needs to hold onto his own integrity and his own self-worth, especially in a cutthroat setting of the fashion industry and dealing with a lot of demanding people, was really fun to read and watch develop in the story. There wasn’t much else to his character that stood out to me, other than that development and the fact that he’s the main protagonist thrown into the wild energy of this story. However, he acted as a somewhat-moral-compass type of character, and his presence and thought process helped slow down an otherwise-super-fast-paced book.

However, the rest of the characters did not have a lot of development. Keisha came off as very manipulative, but there was nothing else to her development. There were little-to-no redeeming qualities about her except the mentioned struggles that she went through. The other characters were just there mainly for the sake of moving the plot, and showing off the morally-questionable parts of the fashion industry described in this book. 

Overall, I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 stars!

If you want to read satirical humour at a fast pace, this book may be for you. However, please be mindful of the content warnings if you are sensitive to to the things I mentioned in there.

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